Rather than pledging new funds for regional universities, Education Minister Dan Tehan has instead cut crucial research funds at all universities – including in the regions.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said while money for regional universities was desperately needed, it was reckless to take research money out of every university.
“With the federal Budget position growing stronger by the day, the Government should have found these funds from general revenue – not from slashing crucial research funds,” Ms Jackson said.
“Australia has already fallen behind other advanced economies for the share of GDP spent on research – that should have loud alarm bells ringing for our future economic growth,” she said.
Universities Australia understands funding has been cut from the Research Block Grants over the next few years.
This is the foundational funding that enables universities to conduct world-class research and bid for competitive research grants. Our world-class researchers also teach the next generation of young Australians.
“The five universities that have been promised money by the Government today would also be hit with that research cut,” Ms Jackson said.
This cut to research grants is the second body blow to the research community in three weeks.
The research raid follows revelations that former Education Minister Simon Birmingham vetoed 11 grants recommended for funding by expert reviewers and the Australian Research Council.
“It is folly to be undermining the nation’s future by raiding precious research funding when Australia already spends far less than our economic competitors in the region and the world,” she said.
“We should be investing strongly in both – university places to ensure Australians from all postcodes can have access to this life-changing opportunity and research that is changing lives.”
Universities are the backbone of Australia’s research capability – it makes no sense to cut into this source of the nation’s future wellbeing and prosperity.